In recent years, undeniable progress has been made towards inclusion of LGTBQ characters in mainstream programming. With the arrival of shows such as Orange is the New Black and Transparent, transgender issues have also come into the spotlight, with the general audience (mainly) exercising more understanding and acceptance towards the issues transgender people face and the prejudices they have to deal with.
While there are undoubtedly huge steps still to be taken toward full diversity within TV and cinema, shows and films choosing to focus on LGTBQ issues are doing their bit by raising awareness, educating audiences and promoting tolerance and acceptance. The Weinstein Company have just released a trailer for About Ray, a film which follows a teenager on the road to transitioning to become a male. You can watch the trailer above.
Formerly known as Three Generations, About Ray stars Elle Fanning (Maleficent) in the central role of Ray, Naomi Watts as his single mom, Tate Donovan as Ray’s dad, and Susan Sarandon as Ray’s lesbian Grandmother, who is having a hard time understanding why her grandchild now wants to become a man. The movie is directed by Gaby Dellal (On a Clear Day) from a screenplay by Nikole Beckwith (Stockholm, Pennsylvania).
The official synopsis reads as follows:
“About Ray tells the stirring and touching story of three generations of a family living under one roof in New York as they must deal with the life-changing transformation by one that ultimately affects them all. Ray (Elle Fanning) is a teenager who has come to the realization that she isn’t meant to be a girl and has decided to transition from female to male. His single mother, Maggie (Naomi Watts), must track down Ray’s biological father (Tate Donovan) to get his legal consent to allow Ray’s transition. Dolly (Susan Sarandon), Ray’s lesbian grandmother is having a hard time accepting that she now has a grandson. They must each confront their own identities and learn to embrace change and their strength as a family in order to ultimately find acceptance and understanding.”
This movie looks intriguing, and it will be incredibly interesting to see how the film will address the issues it raises - such as Dolly’s acceptance of Ray’s new identity and whether Ray can salvage any kind of relationship with his dad. Transitioning is something that affects an entire family; sometimes ripping it apart and other times making it close than ever, and the movie's lure will be in seeing the effect that Ray’s transition has on other characters. Of course, the most important character here is Ray himself, and one would hope that the film does a thorough job exploring the tumultuous emotions that surround a person while they are transitioning, including telling family and friends of their decision.
If handled with the tact and sensitivity befitting such a delicate and personal subject matter, About Ray could become a great piece of LGBTQ cinema. One could argue that given the subject, it is not so much about box office success or critical acclaim here, but more about how it succeeds in educating the masses. Certainly if there was not an audience for such a movie it wouldn’t get made, and the fact that such a strong cast have assembled for this film also speaks for the faith they have in the movie being a great mouthpiece for transgender people, many of whom don’t transition until later life, due to the fear of their parents' reactions. If this movie helps one person, somewhere, to tell their parents they want to transition, then it will have done its job.
About Ray will be released on September 18, 2015